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The Bulletin by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
March 20, 2007
South Africa might have harboured hopes of a demolition act with the ball after they chose to bowl first against Scotland but it was their batsmen who carried out the dismantling job, completing a seven-wicket rout at Basseterre. Graeme Smith was largely responsible for the win, his 91 - a personal World Cup best - helping his team finish the job with 26.4 overs to spare.
Scotland, though, didn't disgrace themselves. The openers weren't overawed by South Africa's varied pace attack while spirited batting by the lower order saw 55 coming off the last five overs to bring up their highest total in World Cup games.
Yet they didn't have too many answers when Smith and AB de Villiers kickstarted the chase with a blitz, adding 134 in less than 16 overs and stamping their authority at Warner Park. It took just two deliveries in the first over for Smith to reveal his assertive self, two crisp fours setting the tone with Paul Hoffmann erring on the fuller side. He drove powerfully through the covers and wasn't prepared to spare anything short, rocking back and pulling in front of square. Majid Haq's offspinners were swept, sometimes with force and sometimes with tact, and he gave away 35 in his seven overs.
Having missed out on a golden opportunity to cash in on the run-orgy against Netherlands, de Villiers made up with a fire-starting 62. Whipping off his pads and scurrying between the wickets, he provided Smith good company. There were two towering sixes against the left-arm spin of Glenn Rogers but he fell to another overambitious attempt, holing out to Dougie Brown at long-on.
Smith didn't relent, even though the heavens opened up for a brief period when 40 were required, and only fell with nine needed. Scotland strangely didn't utilise even a single Powerplay in the match.
Earlier in the day, South Africa's seamers didn't exactly tear Scotland apart but winkled out wickets at regular intervals. Scotland's openers, Duncan Watts and Majid Haq, approached the task sensibly, biding their time on a pitch with good bounce but offering little seam movement. Makhaya Ntini, who'd missed the opening game, clocked around 140kph on a regular basis but neither batsman was hurried or overawed. Both handled the short balls with confidence - Watts even hit an audacious front-foot six over midwicket - and calmed the nerves.
South Africa's second-string seamers were more successful. Andrew Hall struck off his very second ball, tempting Haq into a fatal poke outside off, while Charl Langeveldt went one better, striking with his first delivery.
Watts, who'd looked composed till then, flashed at a good-length delivery and edged to first slip. Gavin Hamilton tried an overambitious drive too early, hitting straight to cover, while McCallum, who'd endured a frustrating 18 balls without scoring, attempted to charge down the track and was yorked by a straight one from Langeveldt.
Scotland weren't willing to fold up, though. Brown entered in the 25th over, after Scotland had struggled to 71 for 4, and guided the tail impressively. He struck just three fours but kept the scoreboard ticking, allowing the tailenders to play the aggressive shots. The trio of Colin Smith, John Blain and Paul Hoffmann - Nos. 9, 10 and Jack respectively - managed 56 runs between them and pulled off some entertaining strikes in the slog overs. Hoffmann hit three fours and a six and was responsible for Scotland adding 55 in the last five overs. It was a fine way to finish but, as is often the case in these one-sided contests, it was never going to be enough.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of CricinfoFeeds: Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
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